* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
* Dollar sags with benchmark US yield sliding to 21-mth low
* Sharp drop in US yields negates dollar’s safe-haven status
* RBA cuts rates, Aussie steady with decision well expected (Adds RBA policy decision, updates prices)
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, June 4 (Reuters) - The dollar struggled to shake off a harsh overnight session, slipping to a five-month low against the yen on Tuesday, hurt by a sharp slide in U.S. Treasury yields thanks to rising bets for a near-term rate cut by the Federal Reserve.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield fell to its lowest level since September 2017 overnight, coming within reach of the 2% threshold after St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said a rate cut “may be warranted soon” given the rising risk to economic growth posed by global trade tensions as well as weak U.S. inflation.
Treasury yields had already been on a steep decline as investors have been piling into safe-haven government bonds in the face of escalating trade tensions between Washington and its trade partners.
The dollar traded down 0.1% at 107.980 yen after brushing 107.860, its lowest since Jan. 10.
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was steady at 97.153 after shedding 0.6% the previous day.
“The dollar is even falling against currencies such as the euro. Participants have found an incentive to finally cover euro shorts on the sharp fall in U.S. yields,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities.
“The dollar has been a safe-haven during the current ‘risk off’ phase, but it’s strength is waning as the unexpected pace of the drop in U.S. yields has become too much to ignore.”
The euro nudged up 0.1% to $1.1251 after rallying roughly 0.7% overnight to $1.1262, its highest since May 13.
The single currency has drawn support from a weaker dollar but analysts remain cautious on its longer term prospects.
“Considering the euro zone’s close ties with the Chinese economy, the euro is one of the currencies that stands to be most affected by a Chinese economic downturn - a risk associated with the escalating U.S.-China trade war,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.
The Australian dollar held steady at $0.6974, giving up brief gains of 0.2% to a three-week peak of $0.6975 after the nation’s central bank cut rates in a widely anticipated move.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut its cash rate on Tuesday to an all-time low of 1.25% from 1.50%, but it did not give a clear indication of plans for further cuts.
The pound was flat at $1.2666, having crawled off a five-month trough of $1.2560 set on Friday thanks to the dollar’s underperformance.
Sterling had sunk to the five-month low, weighed by the prospect of Britain choosing a eurosceptic prime minister who could take a hard line on Brexit. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)